FA Magazine July/August 2021 - Page 15

Social Security Statement Gets A Redesign

The Number Of Registered Reps Keeps Falling

The financial industry regulatory authority continues to see a decline in the number of registered representatives and registered broker-dealers . the total number of registered reps has been steadily declining since 2015 , at which time there were 639,442 ; there were 617,549 in 2020 , a loss of 21,893 reps , according to finra ’ s 2021 industry snapshot . of the total number of registered reps in 2020 , 317,936 were registered broker-dealers and 299,613 were dually registered with B-ds and rias . additionally , there were 69,482 individuals registered as investment advisor representatives . the data shows that while firms are constantly entering and leaving the industry , the shift has not been dramatic . the movement has been up and down over the years . in 2016 , for example , 231 firms left the industry ; 205 firms left in 2017 , 219 in 2018 , 206 in 2019 , and 210 in 2020 . as for those entering the industry , there was a drop from 2016 to 2017 ( 123 to 96 ), but there were increases over the next three years — of 100 , 116 and 128 firms , respectively . there has also been a steady decline in the number of branches , according to finra . in 2016 , there were 159,464 branches and in 2020 there were 152,861 . finra ’ s snapshot shows that five states have the most registered firms : new york ( with 1,482 firms ), california ( 948 firms ), florida ( 690 firms ), illinois ( 616 firms ) and texas ( 609 firms ). the five states with the most branches are california ( with 948 branches ), texas ( 10,845 ), new york ( 9,962 ), florida ( 10,700 ) and illinois ( 7,034 ). finra-registered firms had aggregate revenue of $ 362 billion in 2020 , down from $ 388 billion in 2019 . aggregate expenses were $ 284.7 million , down from $ 344 million in 2019 , the data showed .

— Jacqueline Sergeant

The social security administration has quietly rolled out a redesigned social security statement to selected account users not currently receiving benefits . the revised statement , which has been reduced from four to two pages , was based on extensive research , according to agency spokesman darren lutz . “ it aims to streamline and clarify the messaging and make it easier to find key information at a glance ,” he said in an email . the new statement , launched may 1 , spells out the estimated monthly benefits people get every year from age 62 to 70 , rather than just for ages 62 , 67 and 70 . the information is spelled out in the form of a bar chart . lutz explained that this “ soft launch ” of the redesigned statement is a small step and went out to a small percentage of “ my social security ” account users not currently receiving benefits . He added that earlier this year , the agency published nine supplemental fact sheets online that further amplified certain messages customized to a person ’ s age and earnings situation . the redesigned statement was first reported by ThinkAdvisor , which followed up on a tweet by jeffrey levine , chief planning officer at Buckingham

“ It aims to streamline and clarify the messaging .”
— Darren Lutz
Wealth Partners . levine ’ s tweet showed two pages of a redacted version of the redesigned statement that he had received . levine asked in the tweet , “ When did this happen ?” no one else among the twitter responders had received the new statement , but the reactions were positive . lutz said that throughout the soft launch , the agency will continue to gather feedback and make updates as needed .
“ the social security statement is one of the most valuable and effective tools a person can use to learn about their earnings and future social security benefits ,” lutz said in an email . “ it is a very high agency priority to educate people in clear and plain terms about social security ’ s programs and services , and about their potential future benefits and current earnings record .”
— Jacqueline Sergeant
july / august 2021 | financial advisor magazine | 11